Nearly 1,600 Cyclists Ride in Lung Association’s 33rd Annual Trek Across Maine
(June 18, 2017) - PORTLAND, Maine
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Nearly 1,600 cyclists crossed the finish line of the American Lung Association’s 33rd Annual Trek Across Maine today, after a grueling weekend-long cycling tour to raise awareness and funds for lung disease and lung cancer.
Traditionally, the Trek Across Maine is a 3-day, 180 mile cycling event from the mountains of Sunday River to the sea in Belfast. Last year, a 2-day, 97 mile route option was introduced to encourage a broader range of participants, including children as young as 7 years old. As the largest fundraising event of its kind in the nation for the American Lung Association, the Trek has raised more than $25 million over the past 33 years. The Trek is always held on Father’s Day weekend.
“As our cyclists ride through Maine’s idyllic countryside, the impact and importance of things like air quality and lung health become extremely clear,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “The Trek Across Maine enables our larger community to fight for everyone’s right to breath clean air, and to educate the public on how to protect themselves from potentially devastating lung diseases. Thanks to our Trek Across Maine participants and volunteers, we are one step closer to realizing a world free of lung disease.”
Set to music and a cheering crowd of volunteers and loved ones, the annual event kicked off on the Friday of Father’s Day weekend at the Sunday River Resort’s official starting line. The first leg of the event, stretching just over 67 miles during day one, included 3 rest stops and ended at the University of Maine at Farmington where riders and families had access to a baked potato bar, McDonald’s coffee and cookies, Oakhurst Milk and massage therapists. Day two’s route, running 57 miles between the Farmington campus and Colby College, included those cyclists who opted for the 2-day option, and offered 3 rest stops as well as food, photos and a short Spirit of the Trek recognition ceremony at the day’s end. Colby College also hosted Team Tent City, where the top thirty fundraising teams set up grills, games and music. Day three’s route began at Colby College and concluded the event at the Steamboat Landing Finish Line in Belfast, where participants and families partook in a celebratory catered meal following the 2:30pm finish.
Cyclists participate for a variety of reasons, ranging from memorials, to fitness goals, to a simple love of cycling. One participant, Linda Rairdon a healthcare professional from Skowhegan, Maine, is riding for all of those reasons. As a third-time Trekker, Linda is riding in memory of her brother who passed away in 2016 from Pulmonary Fibrosis and her many loved ones suffering from COPD and asthma. She’ll be riding Friday and Saturday, but won’t cross the finish on Sunday, as she’ll be headed straight to Boston to begin the process of being a bone marrow donor for her sister who is currently battling bone marrow cancer.
“When my brother was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrorsis I wanted so badly to help him, but there was so little I could do,” Linda recalled. “Before he passed, I promised him I would bike for him and for his cause. Now that it’s here, falling on the same weekend I am scheduled to donate bone marrow to my sister, I truly feel he is watching over us and is proud of what I’ve accomplished in terms of living a healthy life.”
Linda is passionate about appreciating good health, having recently embarked on her own personal fitness journey that included gastric bypass surgery and 110lbs of weight loss. She is dedicated to living her best life and helping those she loves live healthy lifestyles too.
Rairdon continued, “I’m biking for all the people that have COPD, Asthma, Cancer, that can’t walk a few steps without taking a break. Breathing is something we do without thinking about - it’s natural - but when you can’t breathe and you have to think about it and have a machine to help you, your way of life is over. Life is too short and I know I want to live healthy and to breathe easy.”
The 2017 Trek Across Maine is expected to raise $1.65 million to help fund and support lung disease research education and advocacy. To find out more about the Trek go to www.biketreknewengland.org.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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